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tv   [untitled]    November 21, 2011 2:00am-2:30am PST

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good intentions behind the amendment before the board today, we believe that in order to truly address the problems with the local, we have to close it entirely. it is not enough to extend the expiration window for funds placed into expiration accounts. we need to ensure that the health care expenditures required by the ordinance are actually used for employee health care needs. we recently had a worker come into our clinic, and she had incurred a health care expense, and she was trying to find a way to pay. her san francisco employer -- [bell rings] supervisor chiu: thank you very much. next speaker. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am here representing our workers said that represents young and immigrant restaurant workers. we are also a member of the progress of workers alliance, which is nine centers in san
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francisco that represent different communities and different industries. as you know, we have worked on the issue of wage theft that many of you -- not many, all of you took the pledge to end wage that -- theft. this is also a form of that. these hard-learned dollars are not going to cover the medical cost for medical needs that they are entitled to. as a worker center, day in and day out, we see cases where workers are coming in where they do not have access to these hra's. employers have the incentive to make it difficult for them to not access the accounts or not use the funds to cover their accounts. at the end of the day, we have to think to what lengths are we going to waving workers' -- waiving workers' health and well-being. there are a few businesses that
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do their fair share and other businesses are not following in their steps, so we are here to oppose this amendment today. thanks. >> good afternoon. i am with the chinese progressive association. we are proud members of progressive workers alliance as well as jobs with justice. i am here to urge you to oppose the amendment being proposed by supervisor chiu and cohen to the health care security ordinance. we know that right now, there is a debate going on in this country about the 99% and the 1%. there is a debate going on about the future of our economy and the economy needs to serve and how the inequality perpetuated by the 1% is trickling down to crush and keep down the rest of us including small business owners and workers. i wanted to see a show of hands of supervisors -- who here would like to have an hra as your primary form of health care.
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anyone in the audience who would like to have an arra -- an hra? you should not ask that of your lowest paid workers who are already struggling to pay their rent and survive and raise their families in this city. this is a time we should be coming together as the 99% to fight against the 1% and call for a fare economy that addresses our real economic needs and the needs of all families, not proposing and passing false solutions that fail to address the real issues and even worse, hurt workers and take us backwards from where we are right now. the member i told you the story about last time i spoke to you on this issue had appendicitis, did not even know about her health care benefits, and had to rely on charity care for her interest -- this did not solve her problem. in fact, it gives her employer an incentive to fire her because she has been there and will have two years accumulated, and
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he could just recover the money after three months if she does not spend it. we want to close the loophole in a real way so that every worker is allowed the same rights and every employer place by the same rules. we can fight together, the 99% against the 1%. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon. i owned a small business, restaurants, in san francisco. i am year to thank supervisors cohen -- supervisor cohen and president chiu for their amendment that i think are a good compromise of where we stand on this issue. i would like to stick up with the previous speaker left off. i do not have hra and i would not want to have it, but the insurance companies put a limit of 20 hours a week providing
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insurance. that is the threshold. anyone that works less than 20 hours a week -- and there are many -- do not have any way to be injured. i do not charge for the health initiative, and i provide health insurance. last year, i had a serious accident. i am still paying off many of the bills that my interest did not pay, so why are we putting small businesses in the same category of some big corporations, big brother that is just out to get -- all the restaurant owners i know, and i can name a lot -- they care for their people. they do the best they can. they work their ass off and i resent the characterization that small-business owners are out there to take advantage of anyone. we are not. i support supervisor cohen and
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president chiu's amendment. they are okay, i guess. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> good afternoon. i am the general manager of escape to new york pizza. i am here to support supervisors chiu and cohen's amendment. i look forward to a manageable and survival solution to the loophole. we have been going up around and around, and some of the solutions have been unsustainable for my business, and some have been unacceptable for the employees. i am happy to hear and see something we can live with. no solution presented prevents or mandates that an employee in san francisco joined healthy san francisco. they all can do it regardless of what might benefit is. i encourage any of my employees that i cannot give full-time
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health insurance to to join healthy san francisco. they can use their hra funds for that or not. that is their choice. i cannot make it happen. there is a perpetual conversation about a level playing field and the intent of the law. original intent was to provide health care access. i am in full favor of that. i do whatever i can. an unending pot of money that might pay for part of an appendectomy will not hurt as much -- will not help as much as an encouragement for employees that need it to use those funds to join healthy san francisco or get a policy with kaiser on their own. the level playing field is a myth. healthy san francisco covers 4000 out of 50,000 employees. let's just get a rational compromise that all businesses can manage and survive. thank you. supervisor chiu: thank you. next speaker.
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>> good afternoon, supervisors. i am the executive director for the golden gate restaurant association. i do want to remind the board that the folks that we are talking about, 30% of which that are using these -- 30% of the businesses that are covered under the hcso use health reimbursement account in some fashion. that is about 900 or 800 businesses. 60% of those businesses are small businesses. it is not wells fargo. it is small businesses on an economic level. while we do not agree with all of the amendments in the current legislation, we understand that this is a process. you do not get everything you want. what you try to achieve is a principal compromise. that is what this does. it addresses key issues that
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have been identified. it addresses the do not get sick in january problem that supervisor campos identified. it identifies the issue of notice to the employees. quarterly notices in writing of how they can use their benefits, what the benefit covers. that is going to be significant in raising the utilization rate. absolutely employers should be telling their employees what that benefit is. it also addresses the issue of consumer pride. if an entity is telling people that they are charging a fee for health care, they need to spend the money on health care. i want to clarify. it was the golden gate restaurant association that litigated against the city. that is not our intent. we do not want to litigate. we want to find a principal solution that solves the problem and gets access for
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people but does not put people out of work. i think we have that now. thank you. >> i am the executive director of the san francisco labor council. in 2005, just a few months after i was elected to this job, i had the privilege of working with many of the people who are part of our coalition right now. we ended up turning the tide and putting some legacy legislation to gather in san francisco. the security act was passed 11-0 by the board of supervisors for it is one of the legacy items we have in san francisco and. it is very sad that i am standing here today. i feel like we are taking a step backwards. the introduction of the new legislation and ordinances by supervisor cohen are taking us in a route backwards. the debate that we had in 2005
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and was what are we going to do to make sure that those few people who are starting to lose their health insurance, what can we do to stop that? at that time, the debate was that at $1.37 per hour, that was enough to get you health care to. still at the subsidy of the city and county of san francisco. but it got you to help beat san francisco. but there was never a discussion about whether or not there are going to call back and get their money back words. this is not a compromise. this is a step backwards to carry it the coalition, the council is urging you to vote no on this legislation carried this is the first time i have seen the city and county going backwards. we are going to go backwards on health care under the watch of this board of supervisors. i am urging you to vote no. president chiu: next speaker of.
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>> amoeba music is in trouble as far as making money anymore. the economy has screwed us. there are new ways of getting used to deliver to the people. yet we hang on. we have 95 employees. we have blue shield that we offer. it costs us $300,000 per year out of our pockets that we pay for our employees for blue shield. if we do not pass this amendment, it is going to cost us another $150,000 per year, as we calculate. out of our pocket and we have no chance of getting any of it back. that is probably going to be the death knell for our business.
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what is going to happen? instead of improving the workers' conditions, you're going to have 95 employees who are out of work. these are employees who are not easily hirable, either. these are people who do not have college degrees, a lot of them. that are not good in the labor force, but they are good at ameba music. we would appreciate it very much if you would consider the amendment. thank you. president chiu: next speaker. if there are any other speakers that wish to talk on this topic, if you would please line up right now. thank you. >> i am with the chamber of commerce. it is good to follow the last speaker, because i want to thank supervisor chu and supervisor
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cohen and the majority of you who realize that this is about jobs and not losing any more jobs in san francisco than we have to. we are the have 45,000 unemployed san franciscans. with all due respect to my colleague about -- my colleague with the labor council, this is all about compromise. if you look at our election one week ago and the passage of comprehensive handsome -- comprehensive pension reform, where he and i work cochairs of the committee, we see that compromise in this city works. we pass, for the first time in the united states, comprehensive pension reform because there was a compromise measure. we must be on the right track today, because no one is completely happy with the solution. business is not completely happy about two years in worth of
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money set aside, labor is not completely happy that is not more than that. we fixed the primary problems. we kicked the general problem, the notification and education problem, the mislabeling of menus that has been pointed out. we have fixed the main issues and protected jobs. thank you. >> elizabeth alexander a bunch of our health care people were supposed to be here today but had emergency bargaining related issues they had to deal with. they got called in on overtime so they are here in spirit. we are against these changes and supportive of the original legislation because we believe that health care still needs to
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be healthy. it is not ok for us in that the loophole gets closed and has a potential to worst effect than the current legislation. that is because the current legislation -- there is a loophole. this clarification does a lot of harm. it does not address the issue, which is the integrity of providing health care for our workers. we always hear the dichotomy of health care and jobs. this is always being hung over our head when we talk about workers' rights. whether it is minimum-wage, health care, tax incentives. it is a false dichotomy. we cannot incentivize the denial, the cap on health care. although we are promising in the legislation that there will not be the nile -- denial, it is
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hard to enforce those rules. everyone who works under contract knows that the more rules they are -- more rules there are, the harder they are to enforce. the real rules for this is that there is no health care caps. for the public service workers, please continue -- please support the original supervisor campos legislation. president chiu: thank you. next speaker. >> president chiu and board of supervisors, thank you for your hard work on this effort. i am an operations manager with home sweet home care. a home care agency in san francisco. we work on very tight margins in our business. i make it a personal priority to take care of all of our transient, part-time, short-
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term home care workers. as an attorney and the cpa, i want to make sure we do everything that we need to do under the law to take care of our care givers as our employees, not independent contractors. we are in favor of these amendments because we are not interested in escaping what the requirements are and these loopholes. that is wrong and immoral. we do want the board to consider a balance here. we know that one last worker who has health care insurance is a burden on san francisco in general. at the same time, if one less employee or person is employed because the employer has no funds or profit to keep that person employed, then that is not only a loss of health care, that is a loss of an employee, a person, may be out of san francisco.
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we want to see businesses keep their people employed. it is important to look at the bigger picture in addition to looking at one employee who does not have health care. what do they do if they do not have health care? that is a tragedy, but if a small business like ours and many others in san francisco cannot keep people fully employed, then we have an equally grave problem. that worker no longer has a job. because of a loss in health care. please keep in mind the balance and that employers like ours are working hard to keep people employed and provide them with the benefits they should have under the law. president chiu: thank you. are there any other members of the public who wish to speak on this item? seeing none, public, is this what -- public comment is closed. supervisor campos: i want to thank all of the members of the
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broad coalition that have brought this matter forward. i want to thank our partners in the labor community for all the work they have done. to the workers who, in the last few months, have had the courage to come forward in city hall, to share with us personal experiences that i know are not very easy to share. i also want to thank all of the businesses. the vast majority of businesses in the city and county of san francisco are doing the right thing by their workers. i also want to thank all of the comments from some many san franciscans, including consumers who have been called here -- who have been up all by having to pay for health care when, in fact, the money is being pocketed by businesses. it is clear that this amendment will pass. it is a sad day for san francisco. to those of you who have been
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part of this coalition, we may be losing this battle, but the war is not over. to the extent that the board of supervisors is unable to close this loophole, and let us be clear, this amendment does not close it, we need to make sure we did this to the voters so that the voters of san francisco make sure that we go down the right path to make sure that we do not take a step backwards as the rest of the country is moving forward. we have been leading the way on health care up to this point. it is sad that we are not in a position to be in a leadership role anymore. it is certainly a sad day for the board of supervisors. this issue is not over and we will make sure that, at the end of the day, we do the right thing about -- the right thing by our workers and taxpayers, consumers, and the vast majority of businesses that are actually
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following the letter and the spirit of the law. thank you. president chiu: i think we have some technical amendments we still need to put into this. why don't we do this after my current comments? the suggestion that we are going backwards with this legislation i have to just simply state that we are going to be legislating notice provisions. that is not going at worst. we are going to address the surcharges situation. that is not going backwards. we're going to address the january problem. that is not going backwards. while there was a suggestion that we are somehow to the right of the obama administration, i am not aware of the fact that the obama health care situation is not born to go into effect in january of 2012. we have over two years and before that goes into effect. it is important for this to be into place so the weekend provide more workers with health care over the next two years.
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i look forward to working with all of you and everyone here representing various opinions from the public to make sure that we will be addressing health care to the left of where president obama's health care legislation is. what we are doing right now is exactly in that spirit. i look forward to continuing this dialogue and conversation. right now, we need to move forward and at least get these points done. and continue to build more community support to ensure that we are not needlessly delaying colts off and maximizing the health insurance that we can provide goals. i urge your support and i will be seconding the amendments. >> supervisor: -- supervisor cohen has made the motion.
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supervisor campos: just to clarify the record, what i said and what i will continue to say is that a key difference of opinion is over the issue of whether or not we would be ok with placing the limits on the amount workers accumulate and the health care they are entitled to. on the issue of placing limits, the federal government, president obama, and the congress have made it clear that they are against the placement of those limits. what you are saying, through this amendment, is you are ok with limiting the amount that is accumulated in these accounts. by making that statement, you are taking a position that is to the right of the federal government. i stand by that comment and, at the end of the day, the facts and history was the fort itself. much has been said about how this is a compromise. there has been a lot of give- and-take. the reality is, with this issue,
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we are ok with permitting the amount the workers can accumulate. we are placing limits on what workers can accumulate. that is not a compromise. the facts speak to themselves. at the end of the day, it will be up to the voters to make sure we do the right thing by the workers of san francisco. supervisor kim: i want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues. president chiu, supervisor cohen, and supervisor campos, for looking through this issue and taking the time to talk to many small businesses for it it has been a tough issue for many of us. especially when we talk about sensitive issues about job growth, which we know is an important part of the industry in san francisco. at the request of my colleague, i did come into this hearing with an open mind. i wanted to listen to the public
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comment from our workers and our business owners and many of the folks that wanted to speak on this issue. i do not think that the second legislation is ill-intentioned. i think it is very sincere. as i said before, and as is my conclusion today, in july or august, i did not see a compromise that could come forward out of this between the sides. i do prefer a compromise. i like it when we have something that all sides can live with even if everyone is not happy. in this scenario, i did not see a compromise and i do not view this legislation as a compromise. some of the key things the legislation tried to address, one a concern that we cannot mandate which services are able to be reimbursed by the hra.
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that is not the concern of our small businesses. that is federal law. secondly, we do not this incentivize -- disincentivizethe use of hrsa's -- hra's. i was not clear where that money would go if the original workers left the restaurant or business. it is a general issue. i am glad we are moving a few steps forward, but i do not think it closes a loophole. it may be titan's it a little bit. for that reason, i will not be supporting the legislation today. i want to recognize the efforts of our colleagues. it is a very tough issue. i want to be careful when we talk about jobs. that is such a hot-button issue
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and everyone cares about job growth and not losing jobs in the city. reducing our minimum wage would also create jobs. i want to be careful when we use that as an argument to argue on behalf of legislation. we need to think carefully about what kind of jobs we want to grow and create in the city. healthcare is a vital part of that. you never done for many members of the public. it is a heartbreaking issue to hear about many of our low income residents who do not have access to health care and could have prevented illnesses or untimely deaths if they had health care in place previously. i want to thank everyone. i will not be supporting this today, but i appreciate the efforts around it. supervisor wiener: i think we have a good-faith disagreements here. it is a multi-part in this agreement. a lot of folks in the business
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community are reluctantly supporting what i view as a compromise carry i understand the motivations by supervisor campos and the folks who brought this original proposal for. i respect their motivations. i also respect the work of supervisor chu and supervisor cohen for trying to find a compromise here. what i really have not like is some of the broad brush that i heard today, including public comment. it is important not to broad brush. it is not accurate to say that a small business employing 25 or 30 employees as part of the 1%. that is a complete exaggeration and suggests that all of these businesses, many of whom rse

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